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Time.

Time was ticking by fast. Too fast.

The ticking of the clock was a constant piercing noise, marking out each second that went by far too quickly. The hands wound around just like they were made to do. The hour hand moving ever so slightly every rotation. The minute hand ticking away slowly. The red second hand never stopping for anything, spending it’s life winding around and around.

Blank stared at the clock, counting out the seconds. Testing them. They felt like they were going by too quickly. Precious seconds melting away, slipping through his fingers like water. Everything was rushing by, and he felt a drive to do something. Anything.

But he couldn’t.

The seconds were just going by too fast, and he couldn’t keep up.

He didn’t know what he was doing. What he wanted to do. Everything seemed to have just stagnated in his life, and yet time still kept moving on forward without him, like a current pushing you forward when really all you wanted to do was stay in the same place.

He counted out the seconds again.

Still too fast.

His thoughts were racing a mile a minute. Nothing made sense. It seemed like they were all piling up, crashing into one another and never giving him a reprieve. Every time he tried to reason with himself, something else inevitably intruded his thoughts and created a whole nother spiral. There was simply no end.

He tried to focus on the seconds.

They were muddled, trailing together, jumping ahead in leaps and bounds.

His thoughts screamed at him that he was useless just wallowing here. He wasn’t getting anything done. He was wasting what precious time he had- seconds he could never get back.  

But he needed to count them out. Make sure they were all still moving at the same rate, even if it just made it worse in the long run. He shouldn’t, but he still wanted to.

He still wanted to.

He just wanted the thoughts to stop.

Why was he like this? Why couldn’t he just be normal? Why did he get stuck? No one else got into these awful spirals where all they could think about was their impending doom- something that felt so far off and mysterious and yet so close.
None of them were worried about time. The time they had left. The time they were using up. The time they were wasting. It was like they didn’t understand that their time was running out.

He wished he could be that blissfully ignorant.

Because he was aware, it was all he could think about. And because it was all he could think about, it was causing him to lose time. And that lost time made him aware that time was running out, and the spiral just continued and continued and continued and continued-

There was no end.

Blank counted the seconds.

Two thousand eighty one… Two thousand eighty two… Two thousand eighty three…

Three seconds gone.

Two thousand eighty four… Two thousand eighty five… Two thousand eighty six…

Six seconds wasted.

Two thousand eighty seven… Two thousand eighty eight… Two thousand eighty nine…

Useless. Idiotic. Why couldn’t he STOP!

He just wanted it to stop. But it wouldn’t.

His logic was faulty, he knew that. He knew that counting the time did nothing. Every second was the same, no matter what he thought. That was just how the world worked. It was math. Nothing can change that.

He knew that time wasn’t running out. There were 2,522,880,000 seconds in the average human lifespan. He had added it up himself, checking the numbers over and over. Anything to get reassurance. He wasn’t a human, but it was as close as he was going to get, so he would take it. It still didn’t get rid of the fear that every second was ticking closer to death, though. Every second he could be doing something. Finding his purpose. Doing something… anything.

He counted the seconds.

He stayed there staring at the clock, counting the seconds and contemplating his existence for four thousand six hundred and eighty three seconds before-

“Blank? Blank, can you come back to us?” A hand rested on his shoulder. His counting faltered. Time passed that he didn’t count and oh god what number was he at? What was the time? He didn’t know any more.

He took in a deep breath, then another, his breathing getting more and more ragged with each breath. The counting was the only thing keeping him at least somewhat stable and preventing the dam from breaking, and now he didn’t even have that. Instead he has this constriction tightening his chest, making his breathing difficult. Tears rushing to his eyes without anything to keep them at bay.

“Blank,” the voice spoke again. The hand on his shoulder moved him, corraling him closer until he could feel arms around his shoulders, holding him close.

Blank shook his head, burying his face deep into the person’s clothes. He knew it had to be a Markiplier ego because of the voice, but other than that he was lost. It didn’t really matter, though. All that mattered was that time was still passing but he didn’t know how much, and his thoughts were too scattered to start counting again.

He was shaking, but he tried to focus on the warm hand slowly rubbing his back.

“That’s it, Blank. Breathe. In and out. Count in for- wait no, shit, don’t do that. Just focus on my breathing, alright?”

The Iplier ego’s breath was steady, a constant tempo that was easy to hone in on and slowly mimic. In and out. In and out. All the while, the person was whispering comforting words to him, slowly coaxing him back to reality.

It took a long while- he didn’t know how long without the seconds- but his thoughts finally began to clear up, and it was no longer a chore to simply breath.

Blank carefully pulled back from the ego, not wanting to disturb them or the peace, but needing some space. Now that he was out of the hold, he could see who it was.

...Of course it was Bim. Just like the last however many times. The ego just seemed to have a sense for whenever he was in distress, always ready to drop everything to help him out.

“Are you doing okay, Blank?” Bim asked, his face twisted in worry.

Blank looked down, his heart constricting at the idea that he had caused his friend such distress just because he was being a stupid idiot who couldn’t get out of his own head. He nodded minisculely in response to Bim’s question.

“Can you move?”

Blank shrugged. He felt shaky and tired, but if Bim wanted him to move it was probably for a good reason. He trusted the ego’s judgement, and they had already been through this song and dance routine before, so it wasn’t like he was throwing any curveballs at him.

“Let’s get you to Dr. Plier. It’s going to be okay, Blank.”

Slowly they both stood up, Bim helping Blank to his feet and supporting his weight as they walked down to the therapist’s office, no more words being exchanged.

-----

Bim closed the door to Dr. Plier’s office behind him, letting out a sigh. He knew it was best to leave Dr. Plier and Blank alone to talk, but it still felt wrong to him to just leave the young ego in there after such a long panic attack without any kind of backup.

“Is Blank doing acceptable?”

Bim jumped, standing up straighter as he realized there was another person standing in the hallway, waiting with folded arms folded for him. He relaxed slightly when he realized who it was, running a hand down his face. “I… I don’t know, Dark. This is his fourth panic attack this week. He was just staring at a wall, listening to the clock. This isn’t healthy, but I’m pretty sure that this is an intrinsic part of his character design, and there might not be a lot we can do about it...”

Dark paused, looking deep in thought for a minute before clearing his throat and saying,  “...I want all non digital clocks out of here by next week. Nothing that counts seconds is allowed in this house.” He looked down at his wrist, unclasping the watch held there and letting it slide off into his other hand. “That means watches too. Is that clear?”

Bim frowned. “I’m not sure if that will help, Dark. It’s… it’s more than just the clocks. I don’t understand it, but it’s seems like it more about the time the clock keeps, rather than the clock itself from what I can gather.”

“I don’t care. If clocks are one of his triggers to start doing that, then I’m not taking any chances, and that’s final.”  

Bim looked Dark in the eyes, trying to assess what he was really saying. Bim had never seen the ego do anything out of pure kindness, his actions always having to have some kind of second motive to them, so obviously there was some reason why he wanted to keep Blank mentally stable. Dark was as closed off as ever though, and it was impossible to tell what he was really thinking.

Thankfully, Dark seemed to understand what Bim was asking. “We can’t have him indisposed for long amounts of time like that. He’s too important.” Bim furrowed his brow. His words didn’t seem like like truth, even though it was a classic Dark motive. There was something he wasn’t saying. Bim wanted to pry more, but Dark cut him off before he could get any more words in. “Now get rid of those clocks. I don’t want to see a single one in this house by next week.”

“The others will be annoyed, though-”

“They’ll get over it just like they got over the mirror ban.”

Bim nodded reluctantly, leaving Dark without another word. This wasn’t an issue he could push without ending up lying in a ditch. He just had to break the news to the egos of another seemingly inane ban on a common item, it seemed.